Why are most Tampa Fishing Guides in a good mood in April? Two reasons. First, business is great due to all the spring break traffic and second, water temperatures will now stabilize over the 70 degree mark, meaning that quality snook and redfish fishing are here to stay through mid summer.  March is always the transition month and there is no guessing what weather will be one day to the next.  This year, however, was much better than last, and, as a result, March provided some excellent days of fishing.

With several colds fronts still making their way to the Tampa / Clearwater area this last month, water temps hovered largely between 60 and 70...a comfortable range for large sea trout. As is often the case, the biggest trout of the year show up right before they depart, and this year was no different.  Several Tampa Fishing Trips produced numerous fish over twenty inches, with the occasional fish pushing 24". Interestingly, the plastic jigs that seem to work so well in the heart of winter were less productive recently...possibly because many of these imitate shrimp.  The biggest trout now appear to be targeting fish baits, with some of the largest specimens landed on oversized pilchards or thread fin herring. Patience is required when presenting these "jumbo" baits though as trout will grab these from the side, start to swim with them, and then turn and swallow them.  It is therefore best to fish "open bail". Then, once the impact of the trout hitting the bait is felt, the fish should be allowed to run for 3 or 4 seconds. Next, flip the bail and reel down, as now the fish has had time to turn the bait and the hook is now safely inside of the fish's mouth.

Fishing for redfish has been surprisingly productive over the last few weeks. With March's improving tide heights, many of the areas where redfish are targeted in the summer are coming back into play. Mangrove shorelines and oyster bars are now being flooded on the higher tide phases and the fish are, predictably, going there to feed. The general trend noticed by most Tampa Fishing Guides is that fish tend to be small at the beginning of March with more larger fish moving in as April approaches. Interestingly, quite a few large redfish have shown up early.  Catching overslot fish isn't really a problem now as, with the fishery closed until May 10th, all fish are having to be let go anyway. Small to medium live pinfish have been most effective, with cut pinfish and ladyfish being almost equally well accepted. There are still roving heards of rat reds running around but larger fish have averaged between 25 and 30+ inches.

Snook, too, have been fairly active over the last month but their desire to bite can be directly correlated to the thermometer. When the temperature swings towards 70 degrees (or above), fish get hungry.  When it slips back down, the bite subsides for a few days.  As mentioned above, this problem will likely go away this month with warmer temps becoming the norm so expect Tampa Fishing Captains to make snook hunting a progressively larger part of the fishing day.  Early in the season, snook always seem to prefer large white bait over any other offering but, as with snook fishing during any time of the year, it's important to have as wide a range of baits available as possible.  Even early in the year, snook may refuse a large whitebait and then turn on a medium sized pinfish or grunt...maybe even a small ladyfish...on the first cast. By staying creative, a few more fish may wind up on the deck. 

Off the beach, large schools of Spanish mackerel should be available once the east winds return and clean up the near shore waters. Kingfish, which have been around, mostly at 40 feet or deeper, may also make an appearance closer in. Although the spring season always seems shorter than the fall fishery, with the right conditions, Tampa Inshore / Nearshore Fishing for kingfish can always go off this time of year.  If waters clean up, a few hours of near shore slow trolling with live bait first thing in the morning might be productive.

With a new baseball season underway, early April is a good time to see what this year's Tampa Bay Rays have to offer.  It's a great family event and, in the dome, there's never the risk of a rain out. Looking for a night out with a lot of options.  Take a stroll down Tampa's RiverWalk.  Good luck and good fishing.



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